Karachi (PPI) - The speakers stressed the need to launch efforts to protect Indus Delta mangroves ecosystem in the Year of Environment 2009, which is one of the 238 biologically most outstanding landscapes and seascapes in the World but is fast being affected by shortage of Indus water and other causes. Addressing a ceremony organized by Indus for All Programme of WWF Pakistan in Hyderabad on January 03, they said - "Karachi coastline is lying in the earthquake zone and therefore vulnerable to tsunamis and cyclones. They feared climate changes in the deltaic area many trigger tsunamis. Research has proved that mangroves are the proven shield against affect of tsunamis and cyclones because the roots of mangroves absorb 70-90 percent wave energy. Reduction in mangrove cover means exposing to the fatal affects of tsunami." Vice Chancellor Sindh University Mazharul Haq Siddiqui emphasized on maintaining a balance in the natural ecosystem. "Nature, if mistreated, retaliates back. A long-term vision is imperative to overcome the challenges of freshwater scarcity. We must keep balance in our ecosystem by protecting the Indus Delta and associated resources," he said adding we must also keep a prosperous delta for our future generations. MPA Humera Alwani applauded the efforts of WWF Pakistan in this regard. She emphasized on the importance of a clear vision and careful planning to address these issues. She suggested developing Indus delta rescue plan as an immediate response. "Million acres of fertile land that we lose to the introducing sea and droughts. We should raise the voice in favour of those who are affectees of water shortage in the Indus delta," she said adding water is life and our right. Programme Coordinator Nasir Ali Panwhar briefed the participants about the Indus Ecoregion, associated ecosystem and natural resources. He elaborated that the ecological and socio-economic significant of the Indus Ecoregion led WWF Pakistan and Government of Sindh to embark upon a long-term vision for biodiversity conservation through livelihoods improvement in the lower Indus Basin, which is known as Indus Ecoregion Programme and the first six years of implementation period is called the Indus for All Programme. He further explained that the Indus Eco-region comprising of several districts of Sindh province is one of the 238 biologically most outstanding land and seascapes in the World. "The importance is mainly due to the Indus Delta and associated mangrove, riverine and wetlands ecosystem. Since its inception in 2006, the Indus for All Programme has conducted a conducted a comprehensive assessment of flora and fauna of the Indus Ecoregion. He further informed that based on scientific assessment and stakeholders consultation, the Indus for All Programme has been implementing conservation initiatives in four priority sites of the Indus ecoregion, namely Keenjhar Lake, Keti Bundar in District Thatta, Pai Forest in District Nawabshah and Chotiari Wetlands Complex in District Sanghar, adding conservation projects are also underway in other part of the province. Professor Mushtaq Ahmed Mirani of Mehran University brought to light various gaps in irrigation water distribution and management system of River Indus and its tributaries that ultimately affect the Indus Delta and lower riparian communities. "The local communities living in Indus Delta have to bear the brunt of sewage water of 20-25 million people from 40 cities upstream. Indus River water pollution is affecting people in the lower Indus basin and according to some estimates 20-25 percent hospital admissions and 60 percent infant mortality can be attributed to polluted water," he narrated adding more than 2.5 million people have been dislocated due to shortage of water in the delta and about two million fishermen have been affected. Naseer Memon, Regional Head of LEAD Pakistan revealed that about one billion people living on coastline in South Asia are likely to be affected by the climate change effects and hence the people living in Pakistan's coastline.